The Four Quadrant or Matrix Model is a valuable and widely used tool for strategic decision making. I recommend strategy consultants use it for plotting competitors. The Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) product portfolio uses it. It’s just a darn good tool to have around. The related article shows you how to create the two most used types using Excel charts.
This article has short descriptions of a few famous Four Quadrant – Matrix Model charts. You can’t be a successful consultant or product manager without a four quadrant matrix in the top drawer of your toolkit.
There are at least fifty different Four Quadrant or Matrix Models that I am aware of. Each of these uses the same 2 X 2 matrix to show relationships between alternatives and to help you make a decision between the alternatives. They take what are sometimes complex problems, consider the two most important characteristics, show the relative weightings, and help you identify the best solution. Of course, we can’t always easily simplify problems down to two characteristics, but this “window onto the problem” really does help us understand at least what is Critical to Success.
Some Four Quadrant – Matrix Models use square quadrants where each quadrant has the same size. For example, SWOT analysis with text in each quadrant are usually done with evenly sized quadrants. Creating evenly sized quadrants underneath a bubble chart or scatter gram are easy to do with Excel charts. To learn how see “How to Create a Four Quadrant – Matrix Model in an Excel Chart”.
Other Four Quadrant Matrix Models use quadrants that change size because the mid-point moves. For example, Sitecore uses a Marketing Optimization Matrix to improve its marketing campaigns. Averages results are used for the horizontal and vertical mid-lines that are the quadrant’s edges so the quadrants change size as campaigns change.
You can learn how to create dynamic Four Quadrant – Matrix Model that combine a bubble chart and column chart in next week’s article, How to Create a Dynamic Four Quadrant Matrix Model with a Combination Bubble and Column Excel Chart.
<Normally Excel will not allow you to combine bubble charts or scatter charts with other charts. But, there always seems to be a work around in Excel.>
The following sections show some examples of how Four Quadrant – Matrix Models are used to evaluate alternatives and make decisions.
The Sitecore Marketing Optimization Matrix makes it easy for digital marketing managers to decide which campaigns they should reproduce and leverage, which they should improve the attractiveness of, which need greater conversion or better “calls to action”, and which should be stopped. The Marketing Optimization Matrix charts the Value (a metric that measures the impact on strategic objectives) on the vertical axis and the number of Visits of each campaign on the horizontal axis. It helps marketing managers quickly make a decision about which campaigns they should focus on and what needs to improve.
Sitecore uses a Marketing Optimization Matrix to identify which campaigns are heroes, which are converters or attractors, and which are nulls. It helps marketers using Sitecore software make decisions how to optimize online marketing campaigns.
The vertical line marks the visits accumulated from all campaigns. The horizontal line marks the average value produced by all campaigns. The quadrants in this matrix change size depending upon the average value and visits of all campaigns. To learn how to create this Excel chart matrix with changing quadrants go to next week’s article, How to Create a Dynamic Four Quadrant Matrix Model with a Combination Bubble and Column Excel Chart.
Projects and new product development always demands trade-offs. When you have to decide which project to do first, this Four Quadrant – Matrix Model is a real helper. Get a team together, have each present their quantitative findings about each project, then have team members do a Post-It Note ® exercise to position each project on an Impact/Resource or Impact/Time Matrix Model.
Four Quadrant – Matrix Models used in project management have precise measures for the vertical and horizontal axis, so they usually use dynamic quadrants.
One of the most common Four Quadrant – Matrix Models may be the business or personal SWOT analysis; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis can give you many valuable insights and a list of action, but if done incorrectly the process can turn into boring monologues.
If your SWOT just needs items in a list within each quadrant, rather than showing relative positions, you could just create your SWOT using text in cells drawing borders around the quadrants.
To be done well both business and personal SWOT analysis need to have three things,
The point is, if there are no clear actions that come from the SWOT, then it was a waste of time. A good SWOT is not a paper matrix, it is the driver for a clear course of decisions and actions.
Whether you are doing a long and detailed business strategy or you are using the Lean Startup grid you should run through a SWOT once you have a well-defined objective. The purpose is not to fill in the matrix. The purpose is to make decisions and take action.
Creating a SWOT for yourself or your career plans is an excellent idea. Just as with the business SWOT it is pointless to just create a SWOT. You want to create a SWOT and then turn that into a matrix of objectives and actions.
Steven Covey’s incredibly successful time management book, “7 Habits of Highly Successful People,” propelled President Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix into world-wide use. While President Eisenhower created the model and used it for daily decisions that impacted the world, Steven Covey showed us how this use of a Four Quadrant – Matrix Model can impact our personal lives and careers. It makes it easy to identify which tasks are Critical to Success and which are not.
The Eisenhower Model is also a great decision making model for business and project management tasks.
If your Covey/Eisenhower Time Management Matrix just needs items in a list within each quadrant, rather than showing relative positions, you could just create it using text in cells with borders around the quadrants.
The Ansoff Matrix was created by Igor Ansoff to show a business’ present and future products and markets. Use it to understand where the potential is for growth and where you may want to focus future development. Each of these quadrants has different risks and rewards so use this matrix in combination with the other business matrices to understand your product’s position. Of course, you can create this in Excel.
This Four Quadrant – Matrix Model will really help you decide what you are good at and how those strengths relate to your mission. Are you spending resources on products, tasks, or directions that aren’t in your mission or that aren’t part of your core competency? This matrix isn’t just for big corporations. Use the MCC matrix to decide between projects at the department level and use it to decide between tasks in your personal work and life.
Multi-business corporations have a difficult time identifying which businesses they should invest in and which they should harvest from. It’s difficult to compare the forecasts of business units given their bias toward their own abilities, industry position and future. The McKinsey-GE nine-box matrix is still used, although it has evolved, since its origin in the 1970s because it helps businesses understand the position of each business unit.
The McKinsey-GE Matrix should show relative positions between products. For this use a dynamic matrix created with the instructions in next week’s article title, How to Create a Dynamic Four Quadrant Matrix Model with a Combination Bubble and Column Excel Chart.
If you’re a product manager or new product developer you should have seen the BCG matrix a lot. It’s used to understand what your business should do with each product line. The four quadrants represent the market growth and market share of products or product lines: Which products should you develop, which should you pull cash out of, and which should you abandon?
The Boston Consulting Group Matrix should show relative positions between products. For this use a dynamic matrix created with the instructions in next week’s article title, How to Create a Dynamic Four Quadrant Matrix Model with a Combination Bubble and Column Excel Chart.
The Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave are both well known for evaluating products and services. Each of the firms do extensive analysis on business offerings, but they then need to present their findings in a quickly consumable and easily memorable decision matrix. Their analysis are highly valued and very expensive. Some businesses have purchased the rights to display their results publicly so you might search the internet for sample images of the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave. Both of these types of charts are easy to recreate in Excel using the fixed quadrant method described in How to Create a Static Four Quadrant – Matrix Model in an Excel Chart.